Cultivating a Path of Ecological Education and Community Resilience

June 10, 2024

Yué Bizenjima-Chrea's journey through the MEd in Curriculum & Instruction: Ecological Education program at Simon Fraser University (SFU) is a testament to the power of passion, interdisciplinary learning, and community. Born and raised in a Buddhist temple in Japan, Yué's diverse background and educational influences have profoundly shaped her path.

"Many of my family members in Japan are teachers. Growing up in this environment, I saw how powerful education is in shaping people’s perceptions and ethics," Yué shares. Her fascination with the differences between the Japanese and Canadian educational systems led her to SFU, where she was drawn to the diversified and interdisciplinary approach of the Canadian educational landscape.

As a former language teacher and yoga instructor, Yué's experiences with diverse cultures fueled her passion for ethical learning and pedagogy. "I was inspired by students, faculty, and colleagues to take courses at SFU. They all shared how engaging, mind-blowing and life-changing these cohort models are – sentiments I now echo after completing a program myself!"

The interdisciplinary and multifaceted approach of the curriculum influenced Yué's decision to enroll in the MEd Ecological Education program. "Orientation and media featuring Dr. David Zandvliet, the program coordinator, showed me how this program would broaden my horizons and delve into something I am extremely passionate about — ethical learning and its pedagogy surrounding ecological education."

Her time at SFU has been one of considerable personal and professional growth. Reflecting on the Faculty’s impact, Yué explains, “I had already heard of Drs. Vicki Kelly, Cher Hill and Celeste Snowber through alumni before taking their classes. I was blown away by how graciously each fostered so much learning in their unique structures. The curriculum flowed like a beautiful river gently guiding us towards our inquiries and research."

During her coursework, Yué discovered the Miyawaki Method, a native forest regenerative method emphasizing biodiversity and sustainability. This led to her passion project: Indigenous Forest regeneration on heavily blackberry-invaded land within First Nation territory. "I hope that this project can educate and engage the community, serving as a metaphor for part of our reconciliation in action."

Yué's learning centred on individual growth and community and collaboration fostered by the program's extended field experiences. This experience brought about the importance of collective learning and belonging. "Sharing ideas and philosophies through meals, cooking chores, campfires, forest walks, long hikes, lake swims, stargazing, countless laughs, and tears created a strong sense of community,” Yué shares. “Every time we drummed together; we were reminded of this bond. I will dearly miss my cohort family and the memories we created together.” 

"This program gave me a beautiful opportunity to look back at my life history and examine how my ethics and philosophy have been formed almost like a dendrochronology analysis — very granularly. This self-analysis journey parallel to the coursework led to profound inquiries into many aspects of philosophies surrounding ecological education. I believe this will benefit my future studies and my PhD."

As she prepares for her next steps, Yué is focusing on forming a team for an Indigenous Forest regeneration project using the Miyawaki Method, collaborating closely with the local First Nations office. This collaboration not only deepens her understanding of their histories and languages but also fosters a mutually beneficial relationship. She also plans to explore educational signage projects in public parks with a local arborist. "This program has encouraged me to explore more topics. I feel immensely grateful for the opportunity to continue my action research and advance my learning."

Yué advises students to connect and engage closely with their cohort, emphasizing the importance of community by creating and staying connected through a web group chat. "As much as learn from the course, we also learn so much from each other. By co-creating a strong community, our learning becomes richer, more inspiring, more resilient, and more fun!"

Yué Bizenjima-Chrea's story is dedicated to education, community, and ecological sustainability, embodying the values and impact the Faculty of Education and the Ecological Education program instill in their students.

Applications for the 2025 intake of the MEd in Curriculum & Instruction: Ecological Education open September 2024! Visit the webpage to learn more.